Quality Is Just As Important As Quantity

Posted on July 18, 2013


Just recently, news came out about children from a school in the Indian state of Bihar dying from food poisoning. Reading this broke my heart, especially since the food given to these children was free food provided by their government to school children as a method to fight malnutrition.

The news of this tragedy hit home because I remembered my grandma sharing the story of how I used to divide my food and leave half of it for later in the day whenever I visited the class that she taught at a public school in the Philippines. She used to babysit me by taking me with her to the public school where she taught third grade students. My grandma said that although I had food allocated for my morning break and another container of food for my lunch, I still only ate half of the food I brought for morning break, and ate the rest of it for lunch. She said that the food I had brought for lunch remained untouched until I reached home and ate it because I was really hungry.

I was really young at that time, probably about 4 years old, so I barely remember those days. When I asked my grandma why I ate that way, she said that she thought it was because the children in her class who I ate with did not have as much food as I did, so they had to ration the little food they brought with them to school. She thought that I copied the way they ate.

At that young age, I probably had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it. Maybe I just wanted to be like my new friends, so I copied whatever they did, including the way they ate. Unfortunately, what was insignificant to my 4 year old self was most likely a very significant part of those third-graders’ lives.

According to the World Food Programme’s Hunger Statistics, there are 66 million children in primary school across the developing world that attend class hungry, with 23 million of them located in Africa alone, and that about $3.2 billion is needed to reach all 66 million of them. Not only do those children need food, but they need quality food that will improve their health, which will give them a chance to achieve their dreams. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), improved academic performance is related to consumption of a healthy breakfast.

I hope that the tragedy in India will be investigated thoroughly and resolved, and that other programs fighting malnutrition both in India and in other parts of the world emphasize not only quantity, but also the importance of quality of the food and of their programs.

Posted in: Children, Hunger/Food